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August 2019

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Though heart disease, cancer, and other serious medical conditions get their share of media attention, many people are surprised to learn that accidents are one of the top causes of death in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked unintentional injury at Number 3 for 2017, and these incidents fall within the Top 5 causes of death almost every year. Surviving family members suffer tremendously when a loved one passes under such unexpected, tragic circumstances.

Fortunately, Georgia law does provide you with rights when a loved one dies. An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can provide the details, but you may find it helpful to review some background information about these claims.

Overview of Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia: Though the CDC refers to these incidents as “unintentional injury,” accidental fatalities typically occur because of negligence. In this way, these cases are similar to a personal injury claim. You must prove that your loved one died as a direct result of someone’s failure to exercise reasonable care. Examples of cases based upon negligence include:

  • Car, truck, motorcycle, and other motor vehicle collisions;
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
  • Slip and fall incidents on property;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Defective products; and,
  • Many more.

Under Georgia’s statute on wrongful death claims, the victim’s surviving spouse has standing to bring a suit against the responsible party. A personal representative acting for the decedent’s estate may also file a claim if there aren’t other close relatives.

Monetary Damages for Surviving Family Members: There are two types of compensation you can seek through a wrongful death claim:

  1. One category involves damages related to the value of the deceased person’s life, such as lost wages and financial support. There are also lost the contributions of care, comfort, support, education, guidance, and consortium.
  2. Damages based upon financial losses incurred for medical expenses, burial, funeral, and related costs.

Potential Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims: You should note that there are some restrictions that may affect your rights. First, Georgia’s statute of limitations is two years, you must file a lawsuit in civil court within this time frame. The clock starts to run on the date of the accident or other event that caused the death of the victim. If you don’t initiate litigation before the statute expires, you’re forever barred from recovering compensation.

In addition, Georgia follows the rule of comparative fault that focuses on the victim’s actions. If the decedent was at fault in the fatal accident, the amount of compensation may be reduced by the percentage of blame attributable to the victim.

Talk to an Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney About Your Rights

If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the losses you suffer. Wrongful death claims involve complex areas of Georgia law, however, so it’s wise to seek legal help from an experienced attorney. For more information, please contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice to set up a no-cost consultation at our Atlanta, GA offices.


What Types of Negligence Can Result in a Wrongful Death Case?

Losing a loved one is devastating in any context, but an accidental, unexpected death can be even more tragic in many ways. Unfortunately, these incidents are quite common according to statistics compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, unintentional injuries claimed the lives of 169,936 individuals; this number represents a significant increase over the average from the previous five years.

As a surviving family member, your losses can be considerable, affecting you financially and emotionally. Georgia law does provide you with rights through a wrongful death claim, which is akin to a personal injury case. An Atlanta wrongful death attorney can explain your options in more detail, but you can also review the types of negligence that can lead to legal action.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases: Almost any accident that results from carelessness or recklessness can result in a wrongful death claim in Georgia. Some examples include:

  • Car, truck, and motorcycle collisions, many of which result from speeding, drunk driving, texting while driving, and other violations of Georgia traffic laws;
  • Pedestrian, bicycle, and scooter accidents;
  • Slip and fall injuries and other incidents that occur due to dangerous conditions on property;
  • Medical malpractice, including medical mistakes and diagnosis errors;
  • Nursing home neglect and abuse;
  • Dangerous, defective products; and,
  • Many others.

Proving a Negligence-Based Case: Georgia’s statute on wrongful death claims allows a surviving spouse or personal representative to recover compensation, but you must be able to prove the factors of negligence. They are:

  1. The responsible party had a duty to exercise reasonable care when acting, so as to avoid causing a risk of harm to others;
  2. That person or entity breached this duty;
  3. The breach of duty was a direct cause of the accident in which your loved one was killed; and,
  4. You and designated family members suffered losses as a result of that person’s death.

Though it’s not an element of a negligence case, you should also be aware of your time restrictions. Georgia’s statute of limitations on wrongful death cases is two years, so you must file a lawsuit within this time to preserve your rights.

Seek Compensation for Your Losses: There are two types of monetary damages you can recover through a wrongful death claim, one of which pertains to your own losses. For instance, your loved one’s passing results in lost income and financial support. You’re also affected by losses of guidance, education, emotional support, and the effects upon your personal relationship. A second type of compensation is available to cover the victim’s medical expenses, burial and funeral, and related costs.

You Can Trust an Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer with Your Claim

Though it cannot bring a loved one back, a wrongful death claim may help alleviate some of the financial struggles you experience due to his or her passing. To learn more about the types of negligence that can result in a wrongful death case, please contact the Atlanta, GA Law Offices of Julie A. Rice. We can set up a complimentary consultation to explain your rights and how these cases work.


How Damages are Calculated in a Wrongful Death Case in GA

Your life is turned upside down when a loved one dies in an accident, with long-lasting financial and emotional implications even beyond your initial grief. Though you may know that you can seek compensation under Georgia’s statute on wrongful death claims, the laws and formulas for calculating your damages can be complex. Without skilled legal representation, your rights and your family’s future are at risk.

An Atlanta wrongful death lawyer can provide specific information and help you navigate the claims process. Plus, you can read on for some important information about compensation in these cases.

How Wrongful Death Claims Work in Georgia: A wrongful death case is similar to other types of personal injury claims in that they’re often accidental and caused by someone else’s negligence. To recover damages, you must show that the responsible party didn’t exercise reasonable care and this breach of duty led to the fatal accident. Examples of negligence in a wrongful death case include:

  • Car, truck, and motorcycle crashes;
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
  • Medical malpractice;
  • Nursing home neglect and abuse; and,
  • Defective products.

Types of Monetary Damages in Wrongful Death Cases: Your potential compensation in a wrongful death claim comes in two forms, the first of which focuses on the losses suffered by survivors. You and your family miss out on the decedent’s financial contributions, including wages, pensions, and other sources of income. Plus, you lose the contributions that are more subjective in nature, such as loss of guidance, love, education, and compassion.

The second type of damages relates to the losses suffered by the decedent and his or her estate. These include costs for medical treatment, funeral, burial, and related expenses. 

Legal Limitations That Affect Calculation of Damages: You should note that there are laws in Georgia that may impact your rights and/or the calculation of damages you can recover. First, the state has a two-year statute of limitations. You must file a lawsuit in court within this time frame to obtain compensation in a wrongful death case, though there may be an extension while the decedent’s estate is moving through the probate process.

Plus, Georgia applies the rule of comparative fault in wrongful death claims. This statute puts the focus on the victim’s actions in a personal injury case, and can potentially reduce your compensation. The key is the extent to which the decedent’s conduct contributed to his or her death, and the percentage of blame attributable to these acts. This percentage is applied to reduce the total amount of compensation. If that percentage is 50 percent or higher, you cannot recover any monetary damages.

An Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorney Can Explain Damages in More Detail

If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s careless or reckless acts, it’s important to protect your future by pursuing your rights in a wrongful death claim. Because compensation and damages issues can be complicated, you should rely on an experienced lawyer to represent your interests. To set up a free, no-obligations consultation regarding your circumstances, please contact the Law Offices of Julie A. Rice in Atlanta, GA.


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